In 2018 I collaborated with artist Anna Falcini on the production of her film Chère Julie. I was commissioned as sound recordist and soundtrack composer. The film is part of a larger body of work in which Anna responds to an archive of letters written by Gwen John, an artist born in Wales in 1876 who spent much of her working life in Paris and Meudon. She was also the sister of Augustus John and Auguste Rodin’s lover.
Anna’s film documents the key locations in Gwen John’s life, her early years in Tenby, where she lived and worked in Paris and Meudon, Rodin’s house in Meudon and Dieppe where she died. Julie was a fictional friend and confidant that Gwen John would write candidly to but then send the letters to Rodin. In the film Anna embodies the character of Julie, appearing in several of the scenes, tracing the footsteps of John.
In May 2018 we traveled to France to film these different locations and I collected field recordings. I recorded the ambience of the many locations using conventional microphones but also used hydrophones in the water features of the Rodin museum, contact microphones on the perimeter railings Rodin’s house and electromagnetic coils in the Hotel Economique. The field recordings form the basis of the film’s soundtrack which is a soundscape composition that combines documentary style material with more abstract, musical manipulations of the recordings. The sound supports a
“visual aesthetic that echoes the palette, texture and light held within John’s work, an enigmatic quality that emulates the slippery nature of time passed and futures unknown” (Anna Falcini).
Chère Julie was screened in Anna’s exhibition In Between The Folds are Particles at Oriel Davies Gallery, 6th April – 5th June 2019 and Aberystwyth Arts Centre 8th December 2021 – 10th February 2022. It was also selected for Eisteddfod 2022.